Results tagged ‘ Jered Weaver ’
The Angels passed the halfway point of their season on Tuesday, and did so emphatically with their first doubleheader sweep since 2009.
It’s perhaps as good a time as any to see how many All-Stars they have.
They produced their most All-Stars in 1979, when Rod Carew, Bobby Grich, Brian Downing, Don Baylor, Nolan Ryan and Mark Clear were all chosen for the Midsummer Classic. They probably won’t have that many going to Target Field this year, but they’ll have a few. Below are some names worth mentioning, with statistical comps to those who play their positions in the American League (I excluded Josh Hamilton because he missed so much time) …
OF Mike Trout
BA: .315 (T-1st)
OBP: .410 (2nd)
SLG: .617 (1st)
WAR: 5.0 (1st)
HR: 19 (2nd)
SB: 10 (12th)
Chances: He’s a sure thing. Trout ranks second in the AL in fan votes, trailing only Jose Bautista and already notching more than 4 million, and will start his second straight All-Star Game at 22 years old.
1B Albert Pujols
BA: .257 (8th)
OBP: .312 (10th)
SLG: .467 (6th)
HR: 17 (4th)
WAR: 1.5 (7th)
Chances: He looked like an All-Star again in April, but has dropped off ever since and now there are a handful of other first basemen putting up better numbers. His reputation will have to carry him. If it doesn’t, it will be three straight All-Star Game absences for Pujols.
SS Erick Aybar
BA: .277 (4th)
OBP: .316 (9th)
SLG: .419 (2nd)
HR: 4 (T-4th)
SB: 8 (6th)
WAR: 2.9 (1st)
Chances: Tough to say. Aybar has had a terrific first half, but Derek Jeter is going to start his final All-Star Game, and Aybar typically loses the popularity contests. Alexei Ramirez is also deserving.
SP Garrett Richards
ERA: 2.81 (8th)
WHIP: 1.07 (5th)
W: 9 (T-5th)
SO: 108 (8th)
IP: 109 (14th)
Chances: In my opinion, he should. But like Aybar, he’s just not as big a name — yet. I still think Richards finds a way onto the staff, especially when you consider that so many pitchers back out every year. Winning AL Player of the Month for June wouldn’t hurt, either.
SP Jered Weaver
ERA: 3.56 (20th)
WHIP: 1.16 (T-9th)
W: 9 (T-5th)
SO: 92 (T-12th)
IP: 116 1/3 (5th)
Chances: Like Pujols, he’ll need his track record to carry him to his fourth All-Star Game. Solid year so far, but by no means great.
Mike Scioscia knows who his starters will be on Saturday and Sunday, but won’t announce them until Friday, probably because a corresponding roster move is involved. One of the games will be started by Jered Weaver, and for the other it’ll either be Hector Santiago or Matt Shoemaker. And with that, the Angels’ manager will have essentially made the much-wondered-about rotation decision, which was made difficult by how effective Shoemaker and Santiago have been lately.
Santiago has one thing pointing in his favor: Soon, the Angels have to basically figure out whether or not he’s going to start for them down the stretch.
The non-waiver Trade Deadline is exactly six weeks away, and the Angels have two potential needs: Lefty reliever and starting pitcher. Santiago has a chance to fill either of those roles, but obviously not both. And the decision to keep him in the rotation could rest partly on the fact that they need to figure out whether or not trading for a starting pitcher is necessary.
The Angels have the flexibility to absorb payroll – remember, the money they offered to Matt Garza this offseason essentially went unused — but getting a front-of-the-rotation starter would mean parting ways with top prospects from a farm system that needs to grow. Acquiring a lefty reliever probably would not.
The Angels have been heavily linked to Rays ace David Price, most recently by ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden, who believes C.J. Cron and Alex Yarbrough could be enough to get a deal done. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal linked them to Ian Kennedy of the Padres and Dillon Gee of the Mets. I’ve heard they like Kennedy, Travis Wood of the Cubs and J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays (albeit a contender), among others. The Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija is a sexy name who could be shopped since he turned down a reported extension offer, but he — like Price and the Phillies’ Cliff Lee, who’s currently rehabbing from an elbow strain — will cost some top-shelf prospects.
But before they go in that direction, the Angels need to find out if Santiago’s last two starts were a fluke or a sign that he’s actually rounding into the form they expected when they traded for him.
Now, is five weeks enough to draw a conclusion?
Jered Weaver gave up two home runs in Monday’s 4-3 loss — a two-run shot to Asdrubal Cabrera in the first, a solo shot to Carlos Santana in the fourth — and has now given up 14 in 95 2/3 innings this season, giving him the second-highest total in the American League.
Last year, the Angels’ ace gave up 17 homers in 154 1/3 innings.
“It’s no secret, I just can’t stay away from the home-run ball,” said Weaver, now 7-6 with a 3.67 ERA. “It’s been killing me lately, and that was the difference in the game again tonight. I don’t think I’ve thrown the ball terribly, but when I’m making mistakes, they’re hitting home runs. It’s definitely frustrating.”
Weaver’s velocity has continually eroded over the last few years, and he entered Monday averaging a career-low 86.2 mph on his fastball. That could explain the higher home-run rate, or at the very least his shrinking margin for error, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia believes Weaver’s “stuff right now is batter than it was last year.”
So, why all the homers — particularly eight in his last seven starts?
“I don’t know,” Weaver said. “Wish I had an answer. When I have an answer, I’ll let you know.”
From 2006-13, Weaver’s homers-per-nine-innings rate was 0.96, tied for 45th in the Majors. This year, it’s 1.32.
“Just can’t stay away from the home-run ball,” Weaver said. “That contributes to losses. Nothing else to be said. I think my stuff is good. Take away the home-run balls [on Monday], it’s not a bad outing. But those home-run balls are not taken away, and that has led to us losing games.”
The Angels selected Sean Newcomb, a left-hander from the University of Hartford in Connecticut, with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night.
Newcomb, who turns 21 next Thursday, is listed at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, with a fastball that can sit at 97 mph, a strong slider and the potential to have an effective four-pitch mix. For the Angels, he potentially fills their glaring need for high-upside starting pitching in their farm system (Newcomb video here).
Newcomb went 8-2 with a 1.25 ERA in 14 starts for the Hartford Hawks during his junior season, striking out 106 batters and walking 38 in 93 1/3 innings. He’s been compared to Red Sox ace Jon Lester, and his selection marks the earliest a Hartford product has ever been drafted (previously Jeff Bagwell, in the fourth round by the Red Sox in 1989).
The Angels will also select 53rd overall on Thursday, and the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10 on Friday. The MLB.com pregame show will begin at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m.
The Angels’ Draft allotment this year is $5,774,000, which is 20th in the Majors but nearly double that of last year. They’ll get $2,475,600 for their first-round pick and $1,050,600 for their second-round pick.
The Angels had their first first-round pick since 2011, when they took first baseman C.J. Cron 17th overall, and they’re selecting in the top half of the Draft for the first time since they went with current ace Jered Weaver 12th overall in ’04. Their farm system has been ranked last in the Majors by Baseball America heading into each of the previous two seasons.
Angels reliever Sean Burnett, three outings into his return from a nine-month rehabilitation, was removed from Tuesday’s game because of discomfort in his surgically repaired left elbow and will be evaluated in Southern California on Wednesday.
Burnett will likely land on the disabled list, and the Angels will cross their fingers that the injury isn’t serious.
“Lot of frustration right now,” Burnett said when approached by a scrum of reporters at the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field. “I’m trying to stay positive.”
Shortly after that, the 31-year-old lefty reliever’s eyes welled up and he had to walk away from the interview, the emotions of yet another setback still too raw for Burnett, who was limited to 13 appearances in 2013 and underwent elbow surgery in August – a procedure that saw Dr. James Andrews reopen the scar from his Tommy John surgery in 2004 and clean up residual scar tissue.
“He’s worked his [butt] off to get back to this point,” Angels ace Jered Weaver said. “He’s a great guy, man. He wants to go out there and he wants to help his team win. I know he’s very frustrated. Tough time for him right now. Hopefully when they get results back of whatever they’re going to do tomorrow, hopefully it’s not as serious as something torn or something like that. It’s tough, man.”
Prior to the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said left-hander Wade LeBlanc would start on Thursday. But if Burnett goes on the DL, the Angels can recall Matt Shoemaker to make that start. Shoemaker posted a 2.81 ERA in three starts in place of Hector Santiago, but was sent down because the Angels needed length from the bullpen after their relievers accounted for eight innings in Saturday’s 13-inning game.
Burnett entered the seventh inning of a two-run lead to face left-handed-hitters Michael Saunders and Robinson Cano. He got Saunders to pop out to shortstop, then motioned to the dugout, prompting Scioscia to walk out to the mound with trainer Rick Smith and remove Burnett after a brief conversation.
With the Nationals from 2010-12, Burnett posted a 2.76 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP while compiling 212 appearances.
But ever since signing a two-year, $8 million contract with the Angels the ensuing offseason, he’s battled issues with his left elbow.
“Naturally you’re concerned,” Scioscia said of Burnett. “We really don’t have an idea of what it is now. We’ll get direction from our medical department, he’ll get evaluated tomorrow by our doctors down in California and we’ll take it one step at a time. We’ll wait and see what’s going on.”
“Probably 2008, 2009.”
In what sense?
“There’s no pain when I’m throwing.”
Weaver pitched seven innings of two-run ball in Friday’s 3-0 loss to the Rays. It was, as he said, “probably the best I’ve felt all year, as far as being able to command the fastball, strength and mixing in off-speed.” And that’s saying a lot, considering Weaver has a 1.86 ERA over his last six starts, giving up eight runs and striking out 28 batters in 38 2/3 innings to drop his ERA on the year from 5.79 to 3.14.
The 31-year-old right-hander can tell he’s on because of the location of his fastball, and “the way everything is firing over the mound,” and because he’s “throwing the way you know you can throw and not having to throw around issues that you’re having.” He won’t throw his fastball in the early 90′s again, but he can command it much better.
Early last year, Weaver missed about seven weeks with a broken left elbow that limited his ability to work out. Over the offseason, he committed himself to intense stretching and massage therapy with Yoichi Terada. Weaver, who admitted to not being committed enough to it in the past, did two-and-a-half-hour sessions two to three times a week. And he still does that many between starts.
“I’ve always been battling with something, no doubt about it, for like the last four or five years,” Weaver said. “I’ve finally figured out what it was, and all this stuff that the trainers have been doing, massage therapists have been doing, strength guys have been doing. They’ve been working really hard with me. It seems like things are starting to click and we’re moving in the right direction.”
Thanks in large part to that, Weaver’s arm has felt 100-percent healthy since Spring Training. Now is when he’s starting to gain the strength in it from being able to hit the weight room.
And because of that, he believes there’s upside left.
‘Oh yeah, absolutely,” Weaver said. “I think that I can get stronger. It’s just going to take me doing the work and continuing to trust the training staff and the strength staff, and just going out there and trying to get this thing resolved.”
Ernesto Frieri pitched in a save situation against the Yankees on Monday night, his first since being demoted from the closer’s role after a nightmarish ninth inning in the nation’s capital on April 23.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the closer again.
Joe Smith was warming up in the bullpen to pitch the ninth, but then he started feeling sick, and then he, well, disgorged his lunch. So Frieri, who started to warm up as Jered Weaver got in trouble in the eighth, got up again, checked into the ninth with a three-run lead and notched a 1-2-3 inning — striking out Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira, then getting Brian McCann to line out to end the game.
Asked about the ninth after the 4-1 win, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: “Ernie’s got to be part of it. Joe Smith’s throwing the ball very well, and Ernie’s going to be a big part of it, for sure.”
The important thing is that Frieri is throwing better. He’s twirled 4 2/3 hit-less innings since his demotion, giving up only one hit by pitch and striking out four batters. On Monday, he used his trademark fastball to record both of his punchouts.
“It’s coming back,” Frieri said. “I’m just letting it go, stop thinking about painting the strike zone and let the movement of my fastball take care of itself. I felt pretty good today. My fastball had a lot of life, and I’m getting more control with my breaking pitches. I threw a pretty good changeup today, too; elevated my fastball whenever I wanted to. If I can do that, I’m going to be fine.”
Albert Pujols hit his 497th home run, Howie Kendrick went deep twice, five players had multiple extra-base hits and Jered Weaver bounced back with six innings of one-run ball — but John McDonald somehow stole the show, diving to his left and somehow completing a throw while tumbling, then ending the game on a heads-up, unassisted double play.
Here are some other side notes from Friday night’s win, with some numbers courtesy of the Angels’ PR department …
- Pujols still doesn’t want to get into his chase for 500 homers. A reporter tried to ask him post game, and he cut off the question mid-sentence saying, “I’m not talking about it.”
- This was only Kendrick’s 13th career start at designated hitter. He said he hit in the cage twice during the game, but mainly likes to sit in the dugout “because it feels like you’re in the game.”
- Ian Stewart fell a homer shy of the cycle, and was in the hole when the Angels made their last out on offense. And he wanted that at-bat. “Oh, I wanted it as much as any at-bat I’ve ever had,” Stewart said. “I think I would’ve tried for it, I guess. Just being honest. Depending on the score, of course.”
- Josh Wall, the reason Ernesto Frieri even pitched the ninth inning, is the first Angel to be charged with five or more earned runs since Donnie Wall (no relation) on April 22, 2002, against the Mariners. He’s only the 13th pitcher (and first Angel) in the last 100 years to do that in his first game with a team.
- The Angels’ 27 homers are the most through 16 games in team history.
A strong belief in one’s roster is usually followed by a phrase like “as long as we stay healthy.”
Well, the American League West is anything but to start the season. The Rangers are littered with injuries, with starter Derek Holland (right knee), second baseman Jurickson Profar (right shoulder) and catcher Geovany Soto (knee) all out until midseason and Yu Darvish (neck) starting the year on the disabled list. A’s Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker will miss all of 2014 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery and A.J. Griffin (right flexor muscle strain) is on the shelf. And the Mariners — in town the next three days — have two starters on the DL in Hisashi Iwakuma (right middle finger) and Taijuan Walker (right shoulder).
The door is wide open for the Angels.
They’ve had the fourth-worst April winning percentage the last two years, crippling any chances they had of reaching the playoffs. But of the Angels’ 27 games through the month of April this year, only nine will come against teams that made the playoffs in 2013. Four will come against an Astros team that has lost 100 games three straight years (though, granted, they won 10 of 19 games against the Angels last year), and three will come against the Mets, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006. But there’s one really tough swing — a three-city trip from April 18-27, which will see the Angels visit the Tigers, Nationals and Yankees.
The Angels will also be off in each of their first six Thursdays. Yes, you’d rather have the days off at the end of the year, but a fast start is crucial this year, and those off days certainly won’t hurt that cause.
In hopes of facilitating a better start, the Angels tweaked their Spring Training program. Position players took more swings and focused more on situational hitting. Starting pitchers were stretched out earlier. Relievers attacked their bullpens more aggressively. Live BP was re-introduced after a one-year hiatus. And more shifting is taking place defensively, after the Angels went from 2nd to 27th in Defensive Runs Saved over the course of one season.
One year after having by far the worst Spring Training record and ERA in the Majors, the Angels had a much better camp. Here’s a look at the numbers …
Record: 19-11-2, 2nd in the Cactus League
Runs: 190, 4th in MLB
OPS: .803, 3rd in MLB
SP ERA: 4.01, 11th in MLB
RP WHIP: 4.20, 4th in MLB
Positives from camp: Albert Pujols looked light on his feet around the bag and on the bases. … Josh Hamilton quickly got his timing back after missing time with a strained left hamstring. … Tyler Skaggs was mostly sitting at 95 mph, after having a hard time touching 90 mph last year. … Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun — batting ninth and first, respectively, and ahead of Mike Trout — drew a combined 21 walks. … C.J. Wilson had a 1.88 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. … Ernesto Frieri didn’t allow a run in 10 outings. … Trout batted .414/.460/.828. … The Angels rid themselves of two potential distractions, releasing Joe Blanton and signing Trout to the much-talked-about extension. … Out-of-options infielder Andrew Romine was turned into much-needed starting-pitching depth in Jose Alvarez.
Negatives from camp: Sean Burnett is still working his way back from August surgery, but he’s expected to face hitters for the first time in a sim game on Tuesday or Wednesday. … Dane De La Rosa is starting the season on the DL with a right forearm strain, but he could be back as soon as the weekend series in Houston. … Brian Moran is working his way back from left elbow inflammation, leaving Nick Maronde (1.89 Cactus League WHIP) as the only lefty in the bullpen to start the year. … Skaggs and Hector Santiago had their occasional long innings, an indication that there will be some growing pains. … Newcomers David Freese (one extra-base hit) and Raul Ibanez (.218 batting average) didn’t have great results at the plate, but both were happy with the way they were driving the ball.
Now, what does all this mean for the regular season?
I have no idea.
The Angels’ depth chart can be found here.
Now, if you’ve followed baseball long enough you know that a team never goes an entire season with the same 25-man roster (or even the same five-man rotation). So, here’s a look at who’s next in line at every position …
Catcher: Luis Martinez
Third base: Luis Jimenez
Shortstop: Tommy Field
Second base: Grant Green
First base: C.J. Cron
Left field: J.B. Shuck
Center field: Matt Long
Right field: Brennan Boesch
Starter: Wade LeBlanc or Alvarez
Reliever: Brandon Lyon
On that Trout contract …
For months, many wondered how much Trout would be worth in the open market and speculated what it would cost to lock up the best all-around player in baseball. They put his three arbitration years at upwards of $60 million, had him pegged as a $35 million free agent and believed he could be baseball’s first $300-million player.
But three are three important things to keep in mind about Trout’s situation …
1. He isn’t in his free-agent years yet. He still needed to get through three arbitration years, which greatly limits how much a player can make.
2. Being a $300-million player would’ve probably required a 10-year, contract, and that wouldn’t have been ideal because Trout wants to cash in on another monster contract by hitting the open market before age 30.
3. There’s just as much incentive for Trout as there is for the Angels, no matter how great he is. Why? Because free agency is a whole four years away, a lot can happen in four years, and it’s hard to turn down that much financial security so early.
So, Trout’s contract is $144.5 million over the course of six seasons, from 2015-20 (with a full no-trade clause, basic incentives and no additional option years or opt-outs). And I think it gives both sides what they want. It gives the Angels three additional years of Trout and some cost-certainty. It gives Trout a chance to be a free agent again at age 29 and makes him the highest-paid player relative to service time at every juncture.
Here’s a look at the year-by-year breakdown, and who Trout surpasses …
2014: $1M (Pujols in 2003 and Ryan Howard in ’07 with $900K for a pre-arbitration player)*
2015: $10.25M (Howard, $10M in ’08 for first-year arbitration)**
2016: $15.25M (Howard, $15M in ’09 for second-year arbitration)
2017: $19.25M (Howard, $19M in ’10 for third-year arbitration)
2018-20: $33.25M (Miguel Cabrera, $31M AAV in ’14 for a free agent)
* the $1M compensation was done before the contract
** $5M of that will be paid to Trout in 2014, as part of a signing bonus
Can the Angels stay competitive for the next seven seasons to keep Trout’s interest in the team? (@ryanwjsmyth)
One of the reasons Trout felt comfortable staying with the Angels long term is because he knows the owner, Arte Moreno, isn’t afraid to put his money into making this team competitive. One thing is for sure: The Angels will not be in rebuild mode over the life of Trout’s contract, or even while Moreno is around. But it’ll be harder and harder to stay below the luxury tax and put a World Series-contending product on the field as Hamilton and Pujols naturally decline. Jerry Dipoto has a tough task at hand — continue to build a contending team while also developing young pitching. Getting Santiago and Skaggs is a good start, though. Also, keep in mind: Trout’s decision to stay will be based more on how good the Angels can be after 2020, not necessarily what they’ve done leading up to it.
Will Albert Pujols hit 30+ home runs this season? (@adreamersview)
If healthy, I think you can bank on that. He hit 30 in 2012 even though he went a month and a half without hitting his first (and I don’t expect that to happen again). Plantar fasciitis didn’t just limit his defense and baserunning. It made his right knee, surgically repaired the previous offseason, swell up. And it sapped his power because a hitter is nothing without a healthy base. I’m never going to doubt Pujols’ ability to hit. He’s proven it long enough.
If the Angels make a run for the postseason what do you see them doing at the trade deadline? (@gizmosol)
Trying to get their hands on more starting pitching. Justin Masterson and Max Scherzer are heading into their final seasons before free agency, Cliff Lee and David Price may get shopped, and all sorts of other starters could become available in July. The Angels still have roughly $15 million below the luxury-tax threshold that they’re willing to use. Yes, the farm system is still pretty barren. But the list of teams in the market for a starting-pitching rental in July is usually very short, and the Angels could dangle Cron or Taylor Lindsey or Kaleb Cowart or some of their (few) good pitching prospects if they feel they’re close (and hope for a better result than the 2012 trade for Zack Greinke).
Here are some links to our Opening Day coverage …
Some feature stories from earlier in the spring, in case you missed them …
Weaver leads rotation’s quest for redemption
Pujols, Hamilton facing more doubt than ever
Mike Scioscia eager to reclaim winning formula
John McDonald “a magician” with the glove
The odyssey of De La Rosa, and a lesson in never giving up
Trout can’t believe how fast this is all happening
Most important thing: It actually took place in the backfields of the Angels’ Tempe Diablo Stadium complex, where Jered Weaver made his last start of the spring and was lights out against the Brewers’ Triple-A team, pitching seven shutout innings, giving up four hits, walking one and striking out eight in a 102-pitch outing. He’ll start Opening Day on five days’ rest.
Second-most important thing: Three outs away from snapping a six-game winning streak, the Angels plated six runs in the ninth inning, getting a leadoff homer from Ian Stewart, an RBI double by Collin Cowgill, an RBI single from Shawn O’Malley, a two-run single by Abel Baker and an RBI single from Stewart when he came up again.
Third-most important thing: Weaver’s start in a controlled environment made Tuesday a bullpen game. Brandon Lyon gave up a couple of runs while recording only one run in his second inning of work; Ernesto Frieri pitched his eighth straight scoreless inning of the spring; Fernando Salas had a clean inning to put his spring ERA at 3.00; and Michael Kohn gave up a run on two hits and a walk to put his spring ERA at 7.00.
Fourth-most important thing: All the everyday players except Howie Kendrick (stomach virus) and David Freese (tight quad) got a couple of plate appearances. Albert Pujols had a sac fly, Josh Hamilton walked and hit a double that almost left the ballpark, Raul Ibanez hit a solo homer and Mike Trout went 1-for-2 to finish Cactus League play with a .412 batting average.
Fifth-most important thing: Grant Green went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple to put his batting average at .362. John McDonald is officially the Angels’ utility infielder now, and it’s unlikely that Green makes the team. But he’s had a very nice spring at the plate and is getting better at shortstop.
Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Speaking of Green, he made a nice diving stop in the first inning while playing second base.
Best quote: Mike Scioscia on Freese being a late scratch: “He was ready to play. It was not even anything that would hamper him from taking ground balls. But the medical staff thought it would be prudent to have him take today off and tomorrow so he’ll be ready to play. It’s not even a concern.”
Angels’ record: 16-10-2